14th Street Feat

November 8, 2012

The Drafting Table imports kaya toast from southeast Asia.

When I eat out on ever-changing, of-the-moment 14th St. NW, I expect to have a good meal. What I don’t expect is to have a completely new food experience.

The Drafting Table (1529 14th St. NW), which opened last month, has accomplished the unexpected. Its menu, full of great riffs on American fare, introduced me to kaya toast.

A southeast Asian street food that owner Aaron Gordon first encountered at a pub outside of Sydney, Australia, when he lived there 20 years ago, kaya toast seems strange to the uninitiated: It consists of toasted mini-sandwiches filled with smooth “coconut jam,” served alongside sunny-side-up eggs doused in soy broth. To eat the shareable dish as an appetizer or main course, you dip a sandwich into the runny egg yolk and soy broth (don’t forget to eat the egg white with a fork afterward, too).

Combining eggs of any consistency with sweet foods is a tough sell for me. But I am really into the coconut jam sandwiches by themselves. Chef Ciji Wagner tells me the jam is technically more of a custard, made with lemongrass-flavored coconut milk. Whatever it is, it’s addictive.

Would I order kaya toast again for myself? Maybe not. But I’ll surely recommend it the next time a friend asks for something new. The dish is so unusual (at least in these parts) that it’s worth trying.

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Rudi Greenberg · November 7, 2012